The Mistress Of Nothing

The Mistress of Nothing

by Kate Pullinger

Debbie Weiss (09/15/11): This book is based on the life of Lady Duff Gordon, who lived in England in the mid 19th century. She had tuberculosis and it was medically necessary for her to move to a warmer and drier climate, so she sojourned with her maid, Sally Naldrett, to Egypt. Lady Duff Gordon left her husband and young children in England in order to make the trip.

The two women fell in love with Egypt and they settled into their new home in Luxor. An Egyptian dragoman (interpreter/guide) was hired, by the name of Omar and the three individuals fell into a comfortable domestic arrangement. Sally felt free, doing away with her uncomfortable European clothes and taking on the native dress. She learned Arabic and learned to love --- Omar. The two domestics find each other to be soulmates and lovers. A minor issue is that Omar is already married and has a child.

All goes well until Sally gets pregnant and keeps this information a secret from Lady Duff Gordon until the day the baby is actually born. This is not received well by Lady Duff Gordon and Sally is released from service. The remainder of the story follows Sally and how she copes with the unfortunate turn of events. While the book was written well, I found the characters to be on the shallow side and I didn't really get connected with any of them.
Rating: ***

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